One of the great challenges of frequent flying is being high above the clouds in a metal tube with less than ideal oxygen. The technical name for
this, is a hypobaric environment, which means there is low air pressure. In such environments oxygen is thinner in the atmosphere than it usually is on the ground. The buildup of acidic toxins, the fuzzy head feeling, dehydration and ultimately jet lag are all encouraged by low oxygen diffused in the blood. This makes it important for the healthy minded flyer to include activities that counteract this type of occupational hazard.
Look no further than H.I.I.T (
High Intensity Interval Training). In terms of time investment, bang for your buck, flexibility of use and results, you will be hard pressed to find a better tool. As the name suggests it is high intensity with intervals. The evidence[i] that supports the positive benefits from this type of exercise are hard to ignore and are very attractive to frequent flyers for a number of reasons.
For your task-rich time-poor frequent flyer, consistently making time to go to the gym can be a big ask even though they know the benefits are worth it. If you could legitimately cut down on the frequency of your visits to the gym and still see the benefits you want wouldn’t that be great?
Well the intensity of H.I.I.T training means you can do just that. H.I.I.T done properly means you seriously stimulate the central nervous system to the point of fatigue. The central nervous system takes about 48 hours to fully recover, thus instead of hammering the gym daily you can afford to take rest days off, safe in the knowledge that you are not overtraining and you have more time to focus on other things that matter.
Other research suggests that the constant pressurising and
depressurising of the aircraft cabin leaves frequent flyers susceptible to a condition known as vascular remodeling. In this condition the pulmonary arteries thicken as an adaptive response to the pressurisation. Unfortunately, this can eventually lead to congestive heart failure. Besides the use of adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola (noted for combatting this adaptation) cardiovascular training can help. H.I.I.T provides overall benefit to athletes by improving VO2 Max (maximal aerobic capacity) which is generally accepted as a marker of cardiovascular fitness as well as aerobic endurance ability. In other words, as a flyer exercising this way will enable you to make the best use of the little oxygen on the plane due to the hypobaric environment.
It is well established that constant travel with time changes and accompanying disruptions to hormone
balance, are contributing factors to undesired weight gain. H.I.I.T has been shown to be more effective in battling the bulge repeatedly, in less time than normal cardiovascular training alone.[ii]
H.I.I.T routines can be made to suit resistance as well as cardio workouts so you can choose according to your preference or mix it up a bit when things get stale. Hopefully, now that I’ve got you interested in
high intensity training your next question is how do I do it right? The most reliable suggestion I can give you is to folow the cue of Dr Izumi Tabata a leading sports scientist whom a specific set of H.I.I.T sequences (Tabata intervals) were named after.
The Tabata interval consists of a
20 second burst of maximum output of an exercise followed by a 10 second rest, repeated 4 times. As little as this may seem Dr Tabata has proven this to be effective in laboratory conditions. The findings frequent flyers should take note of are that Tabata intervals increase calorie burn for up to 12 hours once you’ve left the gym and that excess post -workout oxygen consumption (EPOC) is increased, which improves fitness.
Now all you have to do is choose how you want to mix it up. You can stick to a single exercise activity or add swap and change activities to suit your needs. To make it even easier to follow try downloading a Tabata app complete with visual and audio cues to add precision to your workouts.
Bonus tip - If you’re using a treadmill for your
Tabatas in a gym that has the Curve® treadmill switch to the Curve, it saves you having to program the treadmill for maximum and rest speeds.
NEWSFLASH!!! – Londoners have even less of an excuse to use H.I.I.T intervals as 1Rebel launches Ride2Rebel a mobile Spin Studio. Routes start from Stratford, Kensington High Street, Angel and Clapham Common see 1rebel.co.uk for more details.
This blog first appeared on NoJetStress.com, all rights reserved.